Looking for interesting summer vacation getaways? Try this expansive Maranat Mana at Malappuram. It’s one of those rarest of the rare Padhinaru Kettu Illams in Kerala. This Mana constructed in 1850 has opened its doors to tourists. Those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of city life can opt for this quiet getaway and spend countless days savouring the heritage splendour of this Mana.
There are documents that chronicle the life of over 8 generations of families who lived in this Mana right from the 17th century. According to mythology, this Mana in the Karikkadu village was one of the 32 Namboothiri homes built by Sage Parasurama. They are Yajurveda Brahmins. Most of the families who uphold the Thanthri tradition are employed in various temples in this region, and they hold different positions.
This Mana is situated in the middle of an eight-acre expansive stretch of land. The Mana’s entrance is situated at the East-West side. The three-storey building is filled with a lot of antiquated furniture. After it was built in 1875, the Mana has undergone several rounds of renovations. Therefore along with Kerala architecture, you can also see the Western influence in their architecture.
The visiting tourists are served traditional Kerala food. Other facilities include Ayurvedic oil baths, Yoga classes, a library stocked with ancient scriptures, and a grand tour of the Mana. You can walk around the rubber estates and whole spices plantations. Another attraction is their Sarpa kavu or traditional natural sacred space of snakes. Here’s is a bit of history about these unique sacred spaces that are usually placed near Namboothiri Illams in Kerala.
The folklore says the great sage Parasurama, who is considered the creator of Kerala, wanted Kerala to be inhabited but alas, the place had dense forests and venomous snakes. So he was unable to convince anyone to live here. This is when Parasurama propitiated lord Shiva, who is considered one of the gods of the Hindu trinity, and is also believed to protect his devotees from venom. Lord Shiva agreed to help Parasurama but at one condition that he and the inhabitants of Kerala must worship snakes and not kill them. Parasurama did not go back on his promise and went on to establish 108 Shiva temples across Kerala. Among them 2 famous Naga-Devta temples are in Vettikottu and Mannarassala. The latter has about 30,000 snake idols and images. The science behind establishing these snake groves is that since the flora of Sarpa-Kavu is undisturbed, many exotic and medicinal plants are found here. It has been proved that such spaces help in stabilizing the ecosystem of the land, which in turn helps in conserving soil and water.
Mana’s Karanavar Subrahmanyam Namboothiripad was a modern thinker who recognised the importance of education in a liberal society. In 1953 he started a primary school, which was a huge social change back then. Maranat family continues to be in charge of this school which is situated at Chebrattusheri.
Subrahmanyam Namboothiri has started a Maranat Mana Dharmasthapana Trust for the family members in 1980. This was also to preserve the 170-year-old history and heritage of the Mana. They are currently looking after the workings of the Mana.
Nearby tourist attractions
1. Jungle Bungalow situated in the middle of Nilambur jungles. This Bungalow was featured in ‘Bhargavi Nilayam.’ Located 2km away from Chantha Kunnu bus-stop in Nilambur, Malappuram. This was earlier the official residence of British forest officers. It’s a great place for a quiet family holiday though it is not safe to trek inside the forest at night. You can see many dilapidated bungalows here. In case you wish to stay here, you can avail the dormitory service of the forest department. The other tourist attractions close by are the Nilambur Kovilakam, Teak Museum, Cannoli plot, Chaliyar Mukku, Adyanpara falls, Kakkadampoyil and Nadukani Churam.
2. Teak Museum: The museum was made of the sub-centre of Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) in 1995. Teak is extremely significant in the area. The world's first Teak (Tectona Grandis) plantation was raised in Nilambur way back in the 1840s and is among the premier teak plantations in the world. Visitors come here in large numbers and are greeted by the extensive root system of a 55-year-old teak tree in the portico. The ground floor of the facility is dedicated to research on the Kannimara Teak. The teak plantation nearby is host to this great tree which is the oldest of its kind in the world. It is an integral part of the region’s history, and we get a detailed account of the bark, flower, and fruit of the teak
3. Kadalundi bird sanctuary is 54 kms from the Mana: This untouched land has over 60 species of migratory birds from across the planet that visits it during different times of the year. One can see seagulls, terns, sandpipers, sand plovers, red and greenshanks, turnstones and so on with November to April being the ideal viewing time. A small hill nearby gives you a panoramic view of the entire region
4. Kerala Kalamandalam: Regarded as the most prestigious Kathakali school in Kerala, this legendary school of art is located in Cheruthuruthy and was originally set up by Poet Vallathol Narayana Menon. Various forms of traditional art forms like Mohiniattam, Koodiyattam, Thullal and Nangiar Koothu is being taught here and is also an official deemed University for Art and Culture. It is the only institute that is built outside a Temple complex. The Koothambalam’s granite pillars are famous for having one hundred and eight karanas (dance-poses) inscribed on them. Watching recitals in these hallowed halls is an ethereal experience. A number of scholarships and awards, sponsored by patrons from across the world, are regularly awarded to aid the student’s journey as artists.
5. Ootty, Nilgiris hills stations are not far away
6. Kozhikode Beach: This Beach is the personification of the numerous characteristics that make the district so unique. People flock in large numbers to view the sunset from the beach. You will get a fresh supply of seafood in the shacks that surround the place. Mussel is a local favourite. A walk to Dolphins Point at dawn ensures a meeting with playful dolphins. You are also greeted by a majestic lighthouse and two piers opening into the sea. Both have been here for over a hundred years. Children flock to Lions Park and the nearby marine water aquarium which is open on all days from 08:00 hrs to 20:00 hrs.
7. Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala (30 km away) is the prime institution practising and researching Ayurveda in Kerala.